BuzzFeed Crossword – Thursday 19 November 2015

MOSQUITO SEASON” by Max Carpenter

Swat those Thursday blues away and solve the puzzle

Thu 11 19

“Mosquito Season”

Constructor: Max Carpenter

Theme: Theme answers contain ITCH, which must be scratched out for the crossing Down answers to makes sense.

  • 20A: QUIDDITCH MATCH – Hogwarts sporting event
  • 28A: SALES PITCH – Commercial spiel
  • 45A: SWITCHEROO – Trick like Rickrolling
  • 51A: SCRATCH THE ITCH – Give in to a nagging desire, or how to make sense of many of this puzzle’s Down entries

Ben: I really enjoyed this. I got QUIDDITCH MATCH immediately (DWaHPR: 0), but immediately got stumped on the crosses, for obvious reasons. I figured there was a tricky theme since it’s Thursday, but it still took me a while to figure out exactly what. And points for a perfect revealer — I’m kind of surprised this hasn’t been done before, but I don’t remember seeing it.

Michael: Hey, nice job on getting the ITCH’s to look like ghosts.

Lena: I found leaving stretches of blank squares in the themers to be pretty unsatisfying; I like finishing with a completely filled in grid. Leaving the itchy ITCH’s in was equally unsatisfying because of the resulting gobbledigook in the Down direction. Maybe if I’d just pencilled my own black squares in, hmm… Well, I guess overall I wasn’t too thrilled with the theme BUT I did think the revealer was really good as a phrase and as a theme gimmick.

Ben: The joke lands a lot harder because there are so many long answers passing through the ITCHes — NEPTUNE, SPACESHIP, POKER CHIP — these would be good answers even without the extra twist. I particularly liked seeing RITTER (41D: Krysten who plays Jessica Jones in the upcoming Netflix series “Jessica Jones”) — that’s out on Friday, and I’m really looking forward to checking it out.

Michael: Yeah, I have no idea who that is or what that is, which is mildly weird, as I’ve been all up in Netflix in the past week watching “Master of None.” Or maybe it’s not weird. Netflix doesn’t really advertise its upcoming shows *inside* my Netflix app. Hmmm … you’d think self-promotion would be something they’d do beyond the bounds of the DVD envelope. Sorry, what were we talking about?

Lena: Netflix and fill?

Ben: A bunch of the stuff that passes through ITCH is clued pretty easy, especially NEPTUNE (10D: Farthest planet in our solar system from the sun now that we ditched Pluto) — probably a good idea, since it immediately tips new solvers off that something weird is going on here.

Michael: This puzzle was easy, even by BZF standards. The cluing was toned down to acceptable levels of poppi-/slanginess for me. Fill is tame, but clean. Mostly. I’m stunned (like, floored) that Caleb let INRI anywhere near one of his puzzles. When I see something like that, or, I don’t know … ETTE … I feel like BZF is betraying me.

Lena: But hey, Michael, days without SYNOD: 0 (previously 8) <high five>

Ben: Fill is pretty good. I don’t know who DIO is (32A: Ozzy’s Black Sabbath replacement), but otherwise no major issues. I’m sure some people has the same reaction to P DIDDY (4d: Puffy, once), so fair’s fair.

Lena: Mr. Combs has certainly changed his title a lot but I had no trouble there, and I’ve come to share Peter’s love of what I call “consonant congo lines” in the fill.

Ben: My favourite clue is probably the one for NEPTUNE above. Worst clue is 13D: Places to stock the lake with a brown trout across the pond for WC’S — ew.

Lena: Sometimes I wonder if Beavis and Butthead are test solvers…

  1. Joe Pancake said:

    “Netflix and fill” — good one! Made me chuckle.

    I was really down on this puzzle until I got to the revealer, and then I liked it. I did not, however, like seeing yet another inconsistency in the clues. Yesterday we got a couple weird plural/singular mismatches between clue and answer. Today we get a type of speech mismatch: “Month with 29.5 days” [noun], LUNAR [adj.]. The clue should be “Like a month with 29.5 days.”

    All the typos and inconsistencies really give you the sense that BF is an amateur puzzle. They need to step up their proofreading game.


  2. Bob Dively said:

    Liked it even though it took me a long time to get the theme even with QUIDDITCH MATCH being a total gimme. I think I would have gotten it quicker had I solved on paper since I usually do things like highlighting theme squares.

    Another puzzle, another gross out clue: WCS (13D: Places to stock the lake with a brown trout across the pond). Starting to feel more juvenile than youthful/edgy.

    Not sure why the alien who owns the SPACE SHIP is homesick. Don’t all aliens come here in space ships unless they’ve got some sort of matter transporter beam thingy? Maybe only the aliens with space ships can leave their homes and thus be homesick?

    Loved seeing Ronnie James DIO, may he RIP in elf-booted heavy metal heaven.


  3. zzedzed said:

    Having experienced MTV as a music video network, AHA was a gimme and alerted me to the down weirdness. It still took me awhile to figure out that it was just ITCH that was missing. A fun solve.

    AHA, P. DIDDY, RIO, BAHA Men. Who let the dogs out and did anyone alert Ben Casrson?


  4. erinium said:

    I thought of Beavis and Butt-head too, between the WCS clue and ENEMA, and TITI crossing EXCITE, for which the clue is [Titillate]. Maybe it was a coincidence.


  5. rabonour said:

    I thought the theme was pretty fun and clever, even though I recognize what you’re saying about it not looking super elegant once you fill everything in. It took me too long to get the theme.

    +1000000 on “Netflix and fill”


  6. Since DIO is Ronnie James’ last name, shouldn’t the clue be “Osborne’s Black Sabbath replacement”? Or is that less a rule than a guideline?


    • zzedzed said:

      If I say “Dio” or “Ozzy” you know of whom I speak, so I think it’s okay here. “Headline name” to “Headline name” parallel instead of first or last name parallel.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. pblindauer said:

    Just saw a very similar theme in a different venue, which took some of the surprise out of this one. Still enjoyed it, tho.


  8. allieleigh said:

    just here to say “Netflix and fill” is a top 5 all time crossword joke


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